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At last supervision?

 “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” Mark Twain

It was refreshing to see that the revised EYFS, Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements has a legal requirement that all settings should have adequate systems relating to how they supervise staff.


A number of my clients (some, currently have robust supervision measures) state that they already have supervision arrangements in place. However, when I ask for clarification this is not quite the case. Generally, what they do have is an adequate appraisal system. (This, indeed, should be in place.)

But it is important that we differentiate between supervision and appraisal; after all from September 2012 settings will need to have clear evidence, especially to show Ofsted how they supervise staff.

To help settings with this, I have attempted to define what these two terms mean:

Supervision: Focused professional and personal dialogue-empowering staff

Appraisal: Formal management evaluation of job performance

From a historical viewpoint we need to analyse the Plymouth Review 2010 and consider the ”Lessons Learnt and Recommendations”, which clearly state:

6.4 Encourage open discussions amongst the staff group about good and poor practice and facilitate constructive challenge of each other

8:15 All Early Years teams to have regular supervision which always includes a safeguarding element

It is important that the senior management team within settings reflect on these two points and honestly ask is this a part of our culture within our setting?

It is equally important to have a working Supervision Policy and Procedure, in terms of being inclusive, that all members of staff in the setting have played a part in developing.  The policy and procedure should state how frequently staff are supervised, (which will depend on their role and how long they have been in post) topics of discussion and how to measure the impact of supervision. In addition, there should be a statement of transparent guidance for the supervisor and supervisee.

As I feel very strongly that every member of staff should be appropriately supervised and supported in their role, I have devised a unique training course, “One-on-One – Supervising Staff© “ I also coach senior management teams in the supervision process.

I believe that if staff feel valued in their role, this contributes to developing and maintaining a quality learning and nurturing environment for the young children and families whom they work with.

Within my supervision course we explore how to develop rapport with staff. I call this my ‘mirror, mirror on the wall’ technique, where the supervisor uses a range of clues to build and sustain a positive rapport with every member of staff – in order that staff feel supported, listened to and valued in their roles. As a manager, can you honestly say that you have a positive rapport with all of your staff and, if asked, would your staff say that they feel supported by you?

It is also important for the supervisor to carry out supervision in a healthy state of mind and have a clean ‘third person’, I have devised a unique technique for this called “these are a few of my favourite things’. All of my techniques and the definition of Supervision will be unpicked and explored with delegates within my bespoke course:

My new Effective Supervision Course, via The Childcare Company: http://sc2013.laserlearning.org/LLSC_CourseDetail.aspx?user=0&cc=33

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  • Carol Bushell

    What a great opportunity to start thinking about the revised EYFS now and being ready for September! Supervision is so important…if we don’t take the time as managers and supervisors to engage in conversation with staff about their practice, how can we truly ensure that staff understand the impact of their practice, and how can we as managers and supervisors really know how effective WE are in our role as inspiring and supportive leaders? Supervision is a two-way process – we can learn so much from each other about practice and together, consider how best to take it forward through engaging in critical thinking and identifying positive action. Supervision builds better teams and working relationships – key ingredients for quality provision and better outcomes for children.

  • Andrew Clifford

    Couldn’t agree more with Carol – going to be the main theme of our Group Managers Forum next week alongside a reflective session on Management vs Leadership! Exciting times ‘ Setting the Standards’ for First Class Child Care

    Andrew Clifford
    Managing Director
    First Class Child Care Group

  • Derek

    Thanks Laura

    At first I felt that including the need for regular supervision as a specific requirement was over-kill as most settings do have regular contact with staff. However, its inclusion has prompted me to reflect on what we actually cover in our 1-2-1s with staff, as well as how regular is regular. We realised that 1-2-1s were becoming an occasion for moaning and only arranged to address negative issues, rather than prompted by a need to give positive praise.

    We’re now consulting with our teams to consider introducing six-weekly ‘Supervisions’ that will be conducted by Room Leaders with individual practitioners and will be entirely child-focused – reviewing specific key children and their progress. This is in addition to 1-2-1s with the Nursery Manager as a chance to reflect on performance.

    The term Supervision is also a good reminder to Room Leaders that their role is indeed to Supervise…. to support; to mentor and oversee quality.

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